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Song You Need: Kenny Mason is undefinable and undeniable on “333 / ATOM”

The Atlanta rapper’s new project RUFFS enlists Young Nudy, Jean Dawson, and more.

September 28, 2022
Song You Need: Kenny Mason is undefinable and undeniable on “333 / ATOM” Kenny Mason. Photo by James “JMP” Pereira  

The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.

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Kenny Mason is a rapper who sounds like he idolizes Chino Moreno and Slipknot as much as Gucci Mane and André 3000. Before rage rap became the sound of the moment, Kenny Mason followed in the tracks of rappers like XXXTentacion and Rico Nasty, incorporating metal sounds into rap songs that could be chilling, fun, or heartbreaking. In terms of blog coverage, tracks like these tend to overshadow Mason’s range, which covers rattling trap, dusty boom-bap, and more.

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True to form, Mason’s new mixtape RUFFS doesn’t stick to one style. “HALOS” covers an angelic soul sample with oil-thick bass as Mason recounts the dire circumstances of his upbringing and shifts to focus on his current grind; the Amindi-featuring “RX FOREVER” combines cloud rap with John Frusciante guitar; “DIP!” strips everything back to glowing, friendly melodies and a sparse beat.

“333 / ATOM,” however, is the neatest summary of RUFFS‘s strengths: The first half is White Pony-era Deftones produced by Metro Boomin. The second is all massive 808s and ambient synth pads, and Mason blanks on both. What unites them is Mason’s celebration of his crew, the “demons” who are as big a part of Mason’s raps as nouns and verbs. Appropriately, the two songs don’t feel entirely distinct, but like siblings, complimenting each other with their respective paces and tones to deliver a well-rounded picture of the artist’s vision.

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Song You Need: Kenny Mason is undefinable and undeniable on “333 / ATOM”